The trans movement has been for many years — and in some places still is — subdued by the hegemonic, white-washed and classist LGB sphere in its aim to equalize their rights to those of society’s; this is how marriage equality has been prioritized in a major portion of agendas between sex-diverse communities. Nonetheless, this prioritization brings watered-down benefits to the lives of trans folks established in a cisgender world, in which existing with a diverse and non-hegemonic identity, renders the reality of being loved freely and possessing legal credibility as unattainable due to the many stigmas and prejudices the partners of trans people have to navigate through daily. All of this winding up to trans people finding the comfort of professing their feelings in the shadows of the underground.
As the years have passed, the trans movement has organized and created institutions for and by trans people, who fight for the recognition of our rights in all inherent areas of life. Discrimination, violence and exclusion have a differentiated impact on trans people in a world that privileges cisgenderness, taking away something as basic as a name that grants identity, a sense of belonging and the enjoyment of the exercise of citizenship; that is why legal recognition of our identities has become the priority agenda for trans people, since this right has been thought of as a key to other rights.
Unfortunately, based on the experience of many states and countries where trans people can access legal recognition of their identity and gender, we find that legislative reforms are not accompanied in a comprehensive manner, expanding the gap between the access to health care, education and employment, causing a lag in the pursuit of the inequality gap reduction.
One of the most important areas to encourage in the transgender world is financial autonomy and labor inclusion. If a trans person has a well-paid job that provides allowances and benefits, or a self-owned business that ensures economic stability, they undoubtedly have greater opportunities to access other rights where the state does not guarantee them; for example, obtaining the means to take care of their health, professionalize their education, and live in a safe, dignified and comfortable place.
Nowadays, companies that emphasize on diverse talent encourage workplaces to be free of discrimination with training and awareness of human diversity. Workspaces become change agents, like mini States, in which diversity and inclusion policies fueled with mechanisms to guarantee the rights of everyone, as well as actions that help prevent and even punish violence, turn these entities into warrants of people's rights, which in many occasions the State does not execute, even it being its mission and object of reason. For example, a company that recognizes the gender identity of trans people by corporate policy, regardless of the existence of judicial or administrative procedures for its endorsement, becomes a safe, empathetic, respectful place and therefore generates greater space for commitment and permanence in the company.
According to the 2018 LGBT Diversity and Talent Survey in Mexico, despite registering 41% presence in higher education studies, trans people continue to face limited opportunities for employment: 2 out of 3 lack working experience, compared to the 1 out of 2 cisgender gay men. This reasserts the narrative of the cis norm over trans existence, over trans people where diverse sexual orientation, as long as it remains in the "private and intimate" realm without disclosure or open expression, does not face greater barriers with otherness compared to people read diverse gender identity and expression.
This fact can be corroborated with the results of a job fair for trans people organized by the Federación Mexicana de Empresarios LGBTI+ in June 3, 2022, in Mexico City. In the space provided by the Integral Health Unit for Trans People, more than 200 trans people in search of employment congregated, with the participation of 21 companies from different business fields, where more than 4,000 vacancies were offered. In a preliminary instance, trans people were asked to register in a link where we requested basic data, including educational status.
To the surprise of many, out of the 547 trans people that registered, 366 had higher education and only one person reported having no formal studies. This shows that, within the Mexican trans movement, diverse worlds intersect: from people in the field of arts such as stylists, fashion designers, artists, to people in scientific fields such as engineering, politics or medicine. When we find trans people who do not have academic profiles, the possibility of entering in a labor sphere is hindered, on this wise, it is vital to promote entrepreneurship; on the other hand, we have trans people who are highly qualified, but are not hired. Discrimination, exclusion and violence continue to be the common denominator for trans people regardless of their cross-cutting and identitarian intersections; therefore is vital to carry out targeted actions for all trans people.
It should be noted that the companies participating in the trans recruitment fair were mostly foreign companies, with diversity and inclusion policies adopted by command of their headquarters, mostly established in the United States of America, Canada or Europe; in addition to having training and awareness processes on human diversity.
These criteria gave us indicators that could guarantee, as much as possible, the safety and respect required inside the workspaces for transgender applicants.
Mexican companies, despite beginning to show openness towards LGBI+ people, do not have the same intention towards trans people. The first question they ask themselves is: Should I build a separate bathroom for trans people if I hire them? The same question they do not ask about gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual people, in short, cis people of diverse sexuality. It should be noted that in the last two years I have had the opportunity to facilitate training and awareness on trans issues to more than 50 companies in Mexico, but it is still a small number compared to the more than 5 million companies established in Mexican territory.
The goal of the Federación Mexicana de Empresarios LGBTI+ is to create labor spaces free of discrimination, for this purpose, programs such as "Talento Diverso" have been created, which seek to promote through workshops, conferences, recruitment fairs, mentoring and guidance to assist LGBTI people in their inclusion in the labor market. Last June, we signed an agreement with Google Mexico, Inroads and Coursera to grant 365 scholarships to trans people living in Mexico in order to strengthen their knowledge and professionalization in IT support, UX design, data analysis and project management. This initiative has a very significant impact both in the medium and long term, since trans people, through their life experiences, enhance the purpose of these tools, facilitate understanding with other audiences, generate new analyses and strengthen processes. According to political analyst Matthew Syed, when highly homogenic work teams are persistently devised (sex, race, religion, identities, orientations, in their totality hegemonic) they also share the same blind spots. From this perspective we can infer that work teams integrated by diverse identity groups strengthen the company's mission, reducing opportunity leakages and supporting the company’s benefit.
Within the programs of the Federación Mexicana de Empresarios LGBTI+, "Institution Committed to Diversity" seeks to generate an organizational culture free of prejudice, stigma and discrimination in any institution, company or workspace by prioritizing talent; the program "Change Agents" is also aimed at strengthening civil society organizations in employability matters, this contributed to the optimal execution in carrying out the first trans recruitment fair in Mexico. With the support of Global Sharper and LinkedIn, trans people attending the fair were supported with advice on their resumes, even being offered to have their executive photographs professionally taken.
Networking is essential to the achievement of ideal results, which is why we as civil organizations must seek alliances and synergies for the benefit of our populations, without branding the private sector as the enemy, which can often represent the voracious capitalist system. We must shift our perception: envision this sector as a field of opportunity towards the successful arrangement of a social, fair and equitable economy.
There is debate about the existence of spaces and affirmative actions that contribute to the marginalization of hegemonic groups, which is the case of a job fair exclusively aimed at trans people, however, we are breaking through an era in which spaces focused in reducing national and regional poverty concerns that affect our community are being conceived for the first time. There is positive takeoff in generating safe spaces working towards reducing the equality gap in the short term, envisioning a future in which these initiatives no longer need to be addressed.